Friday, October 24, 2008

5 Ways to Save Electricity in Summer

My goal is to reduce my home’s natural gas and electricity use by 20% this year. I also want to reduce my utilities as inexpensively as possible. In other words, I don’t want to replace every major appliance I own or install expensive alternative energy generators. Let’s see how I did this June, July, August, and September.

Natural Gas Usage for Summer

We use natural gas for heating, hot water, and a natural gas burning fireplace. We didn’t use the heater or the fireplace this summer so it’s no surprise that our natural gas usage is very low in summer. I expected our numbers to be pretty much the same this year as they were last summer. We used three more CCF of natural gas in June 2008 than we did in June 2007. However, that’s so minor that I’m going to beat myself up about it. Especially since overall, we used less natural gas this summer than last summer.


How Did We Save On Natural Gas in Summer?

I can only think of three minor changes to what we did this summer than last summer that helped us save on natural gas.

  • I insulated the hot water heater in winter 2008.

  • We don’t take super hot showers in summer as we do during the cold winter months.

  • I turned off the pilot light to the gas-burning fireplace for summer.

Electrical Usage for Summer

For summer our homes electricity use is usually at its highest because we have an all electric kitchen and central air conditioning. Central Ohio gets very hot and humid during the summer. It aggravates my seasonal allergies and I just plain get cranky if I have to live in a perpetual sweat lodge. Blitzkrieg isn’t very happy in the sweltering summer heat either. He’s a Pekingese - a bradycephalic (smash faced) breed. That and his double coat mean that Blitzkrieg is more susceptible to the summer heat and developing heat stroke. Since I had the misfortune of experiencing a severe case of heat stroke, I know what it’s like. I certainly wouldn’t wish that on anyone let alone the most beloved member of the family. That’s why I did the happy dance when we decided to buy a home that had central air conditioning.

That is until I saw how much electricity, the air conditioning sucked up during the summer – ouch!


This summer’s electrical usage was less than last year. I attribute a lot of this to having a cooler than usual summer. We didn't have to run the central air conditioning as often as we did last year to keep everyone comfortable. One thing I did use more often is the electric clothes dryer. Since we’re a bunch of seasonal allergy suffers (even Blitzkrieg,) hanging our clothes to dry and having potential pollen stuck all over them makes matters worse for us. Of course, your mileage may vary.

How To Save Electricity in Summer

I can only think of three minor changes to what we did this summer than last summer that helped us save on electricity.

  • The cooler summer allowed us to get away with cooling the downstairs by generating a cross breeze by opening the downstairs windows and sliding glass door.

  • We try not to run the air conditioning until it reaches 85 degrees outside/we experience high humidity, which is usually around mid July through September in Central Ohio. When we do run the air conditioning, we try to keep the temperature set to 74 degrees (F.)

  • To help keep the upstairs level cool, we used a fan in our computer room (because of the extra heat generated by our computers when they are in use) and moved it to our bedroom at night to help circulate the air even when the AC is on. I realized that I could install ceiling fans to do this job, but honestly, I haven’t found any that I like.

  • I keep the curtains closed on the South facing windows of The Condo during summer to keep the sun from heating up the upstairs bedroom and the kitchen. For winter, I will reverse this and use the sunlight to help warm these rooms during the day using free passive solar heat.

  • I installed solar shades on the north facing windows of The Condo, which allowed sunlight into the rooms during the day but also kept the UV light (and heat) out. I bought and installed solar roller shades (you can find solar roller shades similar to mine here) because they were less expensive than the other solar roller shades I looked at but they didn't look cheap. Besides, I didn't think that I’d really need the UV blocking properties of the window shades because most of the sunlight that hits and warms up The Condo in summer comes from the South (aka my backyard.) I just liked these shades for their industrial style and wanted to keep my neighbors from peeping into my windows.

    Well, I was wrong. I was surprised to find that the solar roller shades I bought helped keep the front rooms in The Condo a little cooler. So in that regard I’m glad that they do what the more expensive solar shades I looked at are supposed to do. The solar shades also allow enough daylight to come through the windows that I don’t need to turn on any lights in The Condo during the day. A definite bonus.
That’s how I cut my utility bills this summer. How did you do? More importantly, how did you do it?

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